Thursday, December 16, 2010

Teammembers help further cause of youth sailing foundation

During the ORACLE RC 44 Cup Miami last week, BMW ORACLE Racing CEO Russell Coutts, skipper James Spithill and crewmembers Dirk de Ridder and Ross Halcrow were part of an illustrious crowd that helped launch the Lauderdale Yacht Club Sailing Foundation benefiting youth sailors in South Florida.

The occasion attracted some of yachting's most high-profile players, legends and renowned personalities. The BMW ORACLE Racing sailors joined 1992 America’s Cup champions Bill Koch and Buddy Melges of America3, and Olympic medalists Anna Tunnicliffe and Kevin Burnham as well as renowned one-design sailor Morgan Reeser.

(Picture courtesy John Payne Photography)

The evening was filled with unforgettable highlights. Koch, Melges and Coutts made short presentations that were educational, encouraging and most importantly, inspirational to many of the on looking youth sailors, their parents and some of Fort Lauderdale's high society.

Guests were hypnotized by Melges as he campaigned the mission of the Foundation. "This is something you should support. Think of all the places they'll go. Think of all the friends they will make. Think of all the opportunities they will have. Those are the things that last. These qualities are what make the sport of sailing unique and bring a lifetime of reward. This Foundation is where it all starts."

"The future of our sport is greatly dependent on how well youth and junior sailing is supported around the world," said Coutts. "Contributing to a Foundation such as this is a big step in making dreams come true, which can mean so much. I know that first hand. When we explore new developments at the America's Cup level it is about strengthening the sport, discovering new concepts that will take us to the next level of competitive sailing. This Foundation offers you a way to directly impact an extremely talented and skilled youngster's future. They too, are the next generation in sailing."

Coutts furthered Melges' initial thoughts and commented about how initiatives like the Lauderdale Yacht Club Sailing Foundation are very necessary and play an integral part in the future of the sport. Assisted by Spithill, Coutts entertained junior sailors with a quiz that in turn rewarded them well. Official BOR caps signed by Coutts and Spithill were given and two lucky kids were promised rides on an America's Cup boat.

The night ended on a high-dollar-note. Koch initiated a donation matching contest that resulted in the Foundation's first substantial contributions in excess of $300,000.

Afterwards, more than 35 junior sailors gathered and personally spoke with the special guests, acquiring autographs, sharing sailing stories and especially, thanking those who generously contributed to the Foundation.

(Picture courtesy John Payne Photography)